Rolling Stone



[ Cont. from 39] thoughts about that. How do you think that pop punk and rock can inspire this generation through these difficult times and moments?

BARKER: Some pop music is really good. There’s a bunch of rap music that’s really, really good. But rock — and pop punk especially — has more feeling in a way. It’s emotional music. It’s super-honest. One of the artists I work with, Jxdn, all he listened to was rap music. Going into him making his own music, I was like, “I grew up on rap music, too.” But he said he was always looking for something else in songs that he could relate to — whether that was being lonely or being heartbroke­n. And I feel like that’s where pop punk found him.

WILLOW: Totally. Through those dark times and through that pain, I feel like music — specifical­ly rock and pop punk, for me — just hits me in that place of, like, full and utter expression with no filter. Sometimes you need to let out that anger and sadness that you feel for the world, for yourself, and for everything that’s going on, so that you can be like, “OK, cool. I got all of that out. Now, let me try to make a change.”

BARKER: I mean, it’s exciting that rock music’s back. And, in my opinion, there’s no other strong, talented female that plays guitar that’s in this genre of music or one that comes close to it. I love that you shaved your head.

WILLOW: Honestly performing with a shaved head is the freest feeling.

BARKER: I agree.

WILLOW: I feel like we’re going into a new era. This generation is just blurring so many lines and really starting to break out of all the boxes. That’s so beautiful. In order for the music industry and for music to evolve, humans have to evolve in the way that we hear it and what we value. Just as you said, rock is back. A lot more people are starting to gravitate toward artists who write and play their own music, who really play instrument­s and work hard on their craft. That’s exciting. And I’m just so grateful for people like you. Even you calling me and saying, “Hey, I really think you would sound great on this MGK record.” Honestly, to be a Black woman and be able to come on that song and write my verse with my outlook on life — just being able to be authentica­lly me on that song — those are the kinds of things that are going to make more people feel seen. And that’s the most beautiful part of music.

BARKER: On “Emo Prom,” you shine. Obviously you remember, but when we first sent it to you we were like, “Yeah, we even have a verse written.” And your verse was insane compared to ours. It’s high risk, high reward with what you’re doing — or even what we’re doing. When we made Tickets to My Downfall and we brought it to Interscope, they thought we were crazy. They were like, “This is live music. This is guitars. It’s drums. This music is not popular.” And we were like, “No, this is the body of work that we made that we’re really proud of. This is what we’re doing, and we’re sticking to it.”

You making the music you make, and being this strong female who’s fucking talented, writes her own music, and produces her own music says so much in a time that I think we’re just getting out of — when a lot of music meant nothing or had no message. It’s amazing what you’re doing, Willow. I swear there’s nothing I’ve made or I’ve been a part of since “Transparen­t Soul” that sounds like you — you’re meant to be on it.

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